Chris Wichert, Johannes Quodt and Jenna discuss Koio’s mission to create a modern sneaker and leather accessories brand and share a glimpse into The Collective: their exclusive sneaker collaborations with partners like Game of Thrones and The Beverly Hills Hotel.
We spend the majority of our chat diving into key lessons Chris and Johannes have learned about reframing challenges, learning to detach from outcomes, making time for creativity to flourish, and how they live their Think Big and Positive mantra.
Key Learnings and Highlights
- On pausing before challenges: “If you are calm and stay rational you’ll find a solution that works out.”
- On meditation: “Meditation is a tool to respond to emotions in a more calm and relaxed way. If something outside your control happens, of course, you’re going to have an emotional reaction. That’s completely natural. You can influence the way that you react to it through meditation. As a meditator, it’s easier to take a step back and view the event with some distance and think about a good response rather than getting too emotional about things.”
- On making meditation a practice: “There are ways to adopt it in a very digestible way. You can start with 10 minutes a day and then go onto 15, then 20, and so on. If you compare it to the other things you do on a daily basis it’s not that much time.”
- On learning to detach: “I’ve always been pretty impatient, but over the years I’ve learned that I have to let things be and let certain things go. I’m working on it by trying to switch off from work when I’m not in the office and try to focus on the things I’m doing in the moment, rather than thinking about things in the future or things that you can’t influence.”
- On making time for creativity: “I get really into the details on things. If I’m working on a topic it’s easy for me to forget about everything else and just focus on that. Now, I actively plan for those moments by making sure that I put enough time in my calendar so I can really dive in.”
- On knowing when to dive into the details: “There have been times we have done three extra rounds of prototyping to make sure we get the final details right. We really believe we owe that to our mission and everyone who buys a pair of Koio’s that we try our best and give our best to make the sneaker something amazingly good looking, comfortable, and long lasting.”
- On reprioritizing: “When one of us is spending too much time on a certain task we schedule a meeting to refocus and make decisions on the most important things before we proceed working on that project.”
- On charting your own path: “It starts with listening to what you want and not being affected by what other people think about you or your decisions. When we were starting out, our parents asked why were leaving stable, well paying jobs. We argued that we wanted to do something more creative that we really cared about. We trust the process. We were sure that over time it would all work out. Of course, there will be certain set backs along the way but you have to believe in yourself, in your abilities, and that things will work out in the end. It comes back to doing what you feel is right and not being influenced by what other people say you should be doing.”
- On being grateful for the journey: “There is a never a big moment when you think ‘Oh, we’re done now!’ There is always so much more you can do but it’s the small moments that make it worthwhile.”
- On thinking big and positive: “It’s important to stay focused on your big vision so you don’t get distracted by small situations and setbacks. Focus on why you’re really doing this and your motivation behind it. Your negative thoughts can influence you so much and can distract you from focusing on your work and moving forward with something you want to make progress on. It’s important to approach things positively and with the confidence that you can achieve your goals…For us, looking at the brand that we are building, it’s really important to think big in the sense of: What kind of brand do we want to build that is interesting and engaging and excites the community when it has grown to a much bigger scale? It’s easy to make something relevant for a short amount of time for a small number of people but trying to build a brand that really inspires people for a long period of time is so much harder. It’s something you need to anticipate and try to plan for when you get started because it’s a long build.”